The Clippers pulled off a 15-point, 107-92, win over the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series Sunday, but Clippers Coach Doc Rivers is not patting himself on the back.
"We can't get intoxicated with winning one game; if we do, then we're in trouble," Rivers said before Monday's practice. "No matter what happens, you're playing a team that's won multiple titles. There's nothing you can do to shake their confidence. You just have to keep playing. If you come in thinking something different, then it's going to be a long night."
The Spurs have won five NBA championships, including one last season. The Clippers have never made it past the second round of the playoffs.
The Clippers fought off multiple runs by the Spurs in Sunday's game, but Rivers knows that part of the reason they won is because the Spurs just weren't hitting their shots.
The Clippers coach woke up early Monday morning and watched film. He tried to push practice back from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. so he'd have more time to analyze what he saw, but the players objected. He saw that the Spurs shot 36.6% from the field, made only 10 of their 33 three-point attempts (30.3%) and were 14 for 26 from the free-throw line (53.8%).
But he was much more concerned about his team's deficiencies.
"I think we can play better," Rivers said. "I think we're going to have to, if you want me to be honest. We can't count on them missing wide-open threes."
For example, Rivers said he wants to see the Clippers move more. To be specific, he wants to see them moving constantly, the entire game.
"I thought we did that, but I thought we got out of that at times," Rivers said. "Every time we got out of that, they made a run."
He also said he wants to see the Clippers getting more 50-50 balls.
"They crushed us in the 50-50 game," Rivers said. "It felt like they got to every loose ball, they got every long rebound. I don't know if it shouldn't happen, because they want it too, but they can't dominate in that category or we can't win. We won last night, and we were fortunate in that way, but you cannot allow a team to just dictate the 50-50 game the way they did last night."
The coach, however, was also pleased with the way the Clippers did some things.
He was impressed with the way Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Austin Rivers played defense, once extending the team's lead when they were on the court together. And he was pleased with the way the Clippers "fed the pig."
"Last night I thought they did it in five different sets, where they were in a play and it worked, they went right back to it," Rivers said. "Then they went right back to it. It made my day. It was nice because that's what you should do."
Overall, Rivers was pleased with his team's effort, but said that effort is not enough against a team as talented as the Spurs.
"I thought we were playing hard, and that might have been the hardest we've played, but we can be a smarter basketball team for sure, on both ends," he said.
Rivers also noted that the Spurs were hardly fazed by the loss, in which they trailed by as much as 20 points.
"They were bad, they lost, but I didn't see any frustration," Rivers said. "They've been through this march before."
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